There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, those in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can protect your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals often.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The ideal way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry such as automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Whatever safety equipment that is available to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to avoid further damage.